Christmas was a big deal in our house when I was a kid. My parents saved for months so they could afford gifts for three children. My Father was a pastor of a small church in a rural mountain community and worked a second job as a mailman for the Postal Service. When Christmas came, my siblings and I were lavished with more gifts than we certainly deserved.
I remember that as we opened our presents, I always felt a little sad for my father because he always seemed to only get a few gifts. He never seemed disappointed because I now know that for him Christmas was all about his kids. He really wasn't interested in getting anything. His face lit up from the sheer joy of watching his kids get all the presents. That is why he saved and worked an extra job. He did it so he could lavish his kids with presents.
I learned a lot about God from watching my dad at Christmas time. He showed me a picture of the Father who is the ultimate gift-giver of the universe. I also saw a great picture of Jesus because not only did my dad give us great presents, I realize that he gave himself not just one day of the year, but every day of the year.
In Philippians 2:6-11 we see a portrait of Jesus, the greatest gift-giver. From these verses we see three characteristics that he possessed that we are commanded to develop in our own lives so that we can show the world who he is.
#1 - The One who had everything gave up everything for us.
He emptied himself for us. He left everything so we could have what he had - eternity with the Father. I like how Dick Foth says, "He left his place, to come to our place, to take our place, so that we could go to his place."
#2 - The One who was higher than everyone else became the lowest for us.
He humbled himself for us. I think it is significant that he took on flesh as an infant and not an adult. This was planned so that he could become the lowest who would become dependent upon and subject to his parents. You can't get any more humble than a newborn. The King of kings who rules over mankind subjected himself to us. Amazing!
#3 - The One to whom every knee would bow, bowed down to us.
He lowered himself for us. He bowed down to man and came down to us. Matthew 20:28 says that he did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Thirty-three years later we find him taking off his robe, kneeling down before his disciples, and washing their feet. But wait, there's more! He then went the ultimate distance and laid down his life at the cross and died for us. You can't get any lower than that.
I pray that in the coming days as we approach Christmas that you come to realize the reality of the gift God gave you through his son, Jesus. Your Heavenly Father held nothing back and gave up everything for you. I also pray that each of us would determine to be more like Jesus this Christmas. Give lavishly. Give everything. Give until it hurts. But most importantly, give God the best gift you could give him - YOU!
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